With major doubt now cast over the viability of the British and Irish Lions to South Africa this summer, the suggestion that the Lions could host the Springboks in a home series is gaining legs online.
With Covid-19 rampant in South Africa and with a vaccine still months away from being rolled out in the country, the likelihood of a Lions tour being attended by fans seems increasingly doubtful, even with seven months to go before the first ball of the series is kicked on July 3rd in Cape Town.
A Daily Mail report over the weekend suggests that organisers are likely to make a call on the tour in the next 30 days, a report that has now been somewhat validated in an official Lions statement on the matter.
“As you would expect, we are progressing with our plans based on the latest information available to us,” Lions CEO Ben Calveley said yesterday in an official statement. “However, given the uncertainty that continues to be caused by the coronavirus pandemic both in South Africa, as well as the UK and Ireland, we are very aware of the need to make a timely decision on the best way forward.
”Not least this is so that we can provide clarity to supporters booked to travel to South Africa next summer, or those thinking of making the trip.”
Delaying the series until 2022 could create as many scheduling problems as it solves and that has lead many to question whether or not a series could take place on home nations soil.
Former Sky Sports anchor Alex Payne has put forward a mouthwatering alternative itinerary, one that could go some way to satiating fans hungry for the quadrennial rugby tour.
“Instead of moving the Lions dates, why not move the geography… I’d buy a ticket”
Instead of moving the Lions dates, why not move the geography…
— Alex Payne (@AlexPayneTV) January 3, 2021
Payne’s tour would kick off in earnest with a Lions’ ‘possibles versus a probables’ match on the 3rd of July, followed the same day by South Africa versus Japan in Brighton.
The following weekend (July 10) would see the Lions take on Japan at Murrayfield, with the Boks taking on Leinster in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
The three Lions tests versus South Africa would then take place the subsequent weekends of July 17, 24 and 31 in Twickenham, the Millenium Stadium and Croke Park in Dublin respectively, with a dirt trackers match in Glasgow’s Celtic Park on Tuesday 20th, versus Japan.
Payne’s schedule would allow for no clashes with the Premiership Final, no money loss for sponsors and commercial partners, and the opportunity for the Lions and South Africa to share the spoils.
While it’s far from ideal, Payne’s schedule is surely a better option than no Lions series at all?
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